Red Wine with Breakfast: Wines to pair with your holiday feast

  • Harvested Cabernet Sauvignon from last year's harvest in Napa wait in bins. (Hayley Hamilton Cogill / Special to West Hawaii Today)

Happy holidays! For the most wonderful time of the year, the best wine to toast with is the one you love.

For a few suggestions, consider the following ideas to make your table merry. Where Thanksgiving wines are lighter pairing with the day-long feast, Festivus wines can be more robust, as holiday meals include heartier options like beef, lamb, ham, and pork roasts. Cheers.


Cab is king for the holidays, and right now, Napa Valley is in the middle of their Cabernet Sauvignon celebration.

For the splurge of the season, you can’t beat the rustic, pencil lead, black fruit, black licorice, and Asian spice box filled Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($325) from the Shafer’s ultra-premium Stags Leap District vineyard. From the historic To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($175) melds ripe cherry, espresso, toasted almond, and creamy vanilla.

With history dating back to the late 1800s, Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon showcases their Rutherford vineyards with a rustic, rugged, dusty wine with structure and power. Showcasing the iron-rich soil of Howell Mountain, Duckhorn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) reveals tobacco, leather, and dried berry notes, with a firm, polished palate that lingers.

Southern Napa’s Coombsville region produces a fresh, luscious Cabernet Sauvignon for Ackerman ($95) with supple tannin highlighting violets, red currant, and cedar. Extensively aged for 30 months in new French oak, Trefethen HaLo Cabernet Sauvignon ($220) layers licorice, bay leaf, and toasted spice with a bold, robust palate. Soft and supple, Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) invites you to enjoy with flavors of blackberry, plum, and dark chocolate.

For lovers of a blend, Joseph Phelps Winery masterfully crafts a Bordeaux-style blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, creating Insignia ($300) revealing harmony in the glass with structure and energy. From Yountville, Paraduxx Rector Creek Vineyard Red Blend ($82) brings Cabernet Sauvignon together with Zinfandel for a spiced, earthy, brambleberry, graphite, and pepper filled wine perfect for pairing with grilled rib-eye steaks.

Celebrating a long history of making wine in Central California’s Paso Robles, J Lohr Vineyards &Wine has just released their inaugural Pure Paso Red Blend ($27) of Cabernet Sauvignon with Petite Sirah and a touch of Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot to create an intriguing blend with black fruit, cigar box, and savory balsamic. From the hills of France’s Terrasses du Larzac in Languedoc, with well-draining clay and limestone filled terraced vineyards, Chateau des Cres Richards “Stecia” ($20) blends mostly Grenache and Syrah for a mineral-intense, olive, pepper, red cherry filled wine with length and balance.

Malbec is a Bordeaux variety that found its home in Argentina, with the best coming from high elevation vineyards in Mendoza. First planted in 1925, and sitting at 3,000-plus feet above sea level, Achaval-Ferrer Finca Altamira ($125) delivers Malbec with complexity and strength, while, maintaining freshness and balance for an appealing wine, ideal for prime rib or slow-smoked brisket.

Sangiovese shines in Italy’s Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro Gran Selezione DOCG ($41), revealing ripe tannins with fresh acidity, accenting plum, tobacco, and earthy truffle notes in the wine. Pair with a wild boar ragu over penne or polenta for an elevated take on pasta night.

From Tuscany’s premium Montepulciano district, Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG ($30) reveals dried woody herb and ripe red fruits in an agrarian, structured wine. Brand new, La Caccia di San Giovanni Super Tuscan ($55) red blend brings 100% organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese from San Giovanni, just outside of Siena. Allowing the fruit to speak for itself, embracing a non-interventionist style of winemaking, La Caccia showcases the balance blending the two varieties, bringing the best of both to craft a complete wine with character.

Hayley Hamilton Cogill is a sommelier, wine writer, and educator. Together with her husband Gary Cogill, an Emmy award-winning film critic, they host “Cogill Wine And Film, A Perfect Pairing” podcast on while living on Hawaii Island in Waimea while both writing for West Hawaii Today.

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